University President Drew G. Faust “did not know” about the decades of sexual harassment allegedly perpetrated by Government Professor Jorge I. Dominguez after he was punished for sexual misconduct in the 1980s, she said in an interview Monday.
“As far as I was aware, as far as the rest of I think the administrative staff of Harvard, the leadership was aware, that was over,” Faust said.
Dominguez announced his resignation Monday, one day after the Faculty of Arts and Sciences placed him on “administrative leave” as they investigate an outpouring of accusations against the Latin American studies professor. Dominguez allegedly harassed at least 18 women since the 1980s, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, which first reported the accusations.
The FAS disciplined Dominguez in 1983 for harassing Terry Karl, who was then an associate professor in the Government Department. Faust said administrators knew about that case, which The Crimson covered at the time, but there is no formal process for informing University leadership about past disciplinary action against faculty.
“I think there was certain institutional knowledge about it, but it wasn’t something that was systematically communicated,” she said.
Harvard's investigation of Dominguez is just beginning, and Faust said she doesn’t want to “prejudge” the outcome and the University’s response. Depending on the investigation’s findings, however, Faust said administrators could invoke “third statute proceedings.” The statute outlines the process by which the Harvard Corporation—the University’s highest governing body—can decide to revoke a professor’s tenure in the case of “grave misconduct or neglect of duty,” according to the University Provost’s website.
Faust said she has spoken to several Corporation members about the issue, but that she has not discussed revoking Dominguez’s tenure with anyone on the Corporation.
"The Corporation at the present time is not directly involved in the adjudication of this matter, but I certainly am talking to them and will continue talking to them about the larger issues that it raises about the nature of the culture here at Harvard, about how our procedures are working,” Faust said.
The University’s policies for dealing with cases of sexual or gender-based harassment have changed since the 1980s, when Dominguez first faced consequences for harassment. In recent years, Harvard has overhauled its Title IX policy and procedures and restructured its Title IX administrative offices.
Faust said she plans to consult the Corporation next time the body meets about how to address the Dominguez situation as well as broader climate challenges at the University that the case has raised.
“I think that the next time we speak as a group, I will seek the advice of the people on the Corporation who’ve run Princeton or run a business or run a law office and get a sense of how their wisdom might be applied to the challenges that have been evident through the experience of the past week,” she said.
—Staff writer Jamie D. Halper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @jamiedhalper.
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